How B2B Organisations can Maximise Sales and Marketing Effectiveness through Personalisation
In 2013, 94% of companies agreed personalisation was critical to business success, according to The Realities of Online Personalisation Report.(i)
Nearly 75% admitted they understood the importance of personalisation but were held back because they just didn’t know where to start. Which explains why only 15% agreed they were definitely seeing good ROI from personalisation.
This was back in 2013 – and since then, the picture has started to change.
Predictive marketing analytics is a major driver of that change, enabling what Forrester call hyper-segmentation. Using predictive, forward-thinking organisations can capitalise on personalisation to massively increase sales and marketing effectiveness.
What is personalisation, and why should B2B organisations care?
You’re likely already familiar with the idea, but for clarity’s sake: the DMA define personalisation as “an experience for the user, dictated by the user”(ii).
Personalisation means understanding your customers deeply, so you can deliver personal, relevant experiences based on what they want, when they want it. It’s letting your customers define their own customer experience; the opposite of spray-and-pray broadcast marketing.
Personalisation is effective because it caters to shifting B2B customer expectations. Buyers today expect a tailored-to-fit experience from organisations they interact with.
Personalisation provides customers with a personal experience that better meets their needs – which means your outbound activity is more effective, so you enjoy better results. You deepen relationships, increase engagement, build brand reputation and increase sales – because you can better align to the buyer at the heart of your organisation.
We’ve long understood that one-to-one marketing is most effective. Personalisation takes the one-to-one equation and adds scale.
So why, given the undoubted effectiveness of personalisation, have marketers struggled to implement?
The challenges of personalisation
Personalisation rests on segmentation, and segmentation has traditionally been incredibly difficult to do well. There are two main reasons for this, according to The Realities of Online Personalisation report:
- Technology roadblocks
- Disparate data sources
The report finds that IT roadblocks and legacy technology are major barriers to better segmentation for 47% and 46% of surveyed companies respectively.
Then consider the myriad external data sources that tell us about our prospects and customers, plus internal customer data that’s often heavily-siloed between departments. That data holds a wealth of hidden insight – but lack of a single, unified view makes it difficult to unlock.
In fact, the report notes that 57% of organisations aren’t leveraging their CRM at all in the pursuit of personalisation. 30% explicitly identify disparate data sources as their major hurdle.
The explosion of Big Data means we have everything we need to better understand and better serve, our customers. But until recently, we haven’t really known how to use it.
That’s where predictive marketing analytics (PMA, following Forrester) comes in.
Predictive marketing analytics powers hyper-segmentation
In Q2 2017, Forrester released their Forrester Wave report, Predictive Marketing Analytics for B2B Marketers.
In it, they validated hyper-segmentation as a “core use case for PMA” as it “identifies key audience attributes on which to focus messages”, “enhances relevance of outbound sales dialogue” and “informs content strategy for specific account planning”.
Essentially, PMA works by mining the thousands of available data sources to understand hidden buying signals, creating a sophisticated, single view of customers and prospects. The technology then predicts how customers will behave based on this data – whether they’ll buy, and when, and how much they’ll be worth when they do.
Without PMA, current segmentation efforts tend to be simple and firmographic. Most organisations segment by factors like job function, size of company, geographic territory and industry sector. Which is ineffective, and leaves money on the table.
With PMA, you get a deep– but simple-to-understand and easily-actionable – customer profile that empowers more advanced segmentation.
This means you can deliver the right messages, to the right people, in the right medium, at the right time. And as Forrester observe, hyper-segmentation “inundate[s] and parallel[s] the standard customer lifecycle”.
From identifying your addressable market through acquisition, retention and customer growth, PMA empowers you to speak to your customers in the most relevant, personal way. Which increases sales and marketing effectiveness. No money left on the table.
And this also ties nicely into the recently-released and much-anticipated SiriusDecisions Demand Unit Waterfall, allowing you to more accurately define, prioritise and convert buying units, for better overall conversion.
As Forrester point out, PMA “advanced account-based marketing by identifying accounts by fit and/or behaviour”.
Advanced prioritisation to maximise in-segment effectiveness
Prioritisation has an important role to play here too – another key use case Forrester identifies for PMA. Once you’ve identified hyper-segments, prioritisation allows you maximise impact by targeting the prospects most likely to close.
As Forrester put it, PMA-driven prioritisation “minimizes energy that’s spent on low-priority leads”, “enables best-fit talent to focus on high-priority leads”, and “identifies and helps engage good-fit accounts that are not yet in-market”.
BrightTarget adds a unique extra dimension to prioritisation thanks to our focus on customer lifetime value. This gives a clear matrix of prospects most likely to convert versus lifetime value, so you can prioritise your treatment accordingly.
For instance, your A1 prospects go straight to your salespeople (along with data-rich customer profiles, so they get extensive insight to inform their call). Your B2 prospects probably go onto a nurturing track, where your marketing teams can see which message sequence to funnel each account into. Then C3 prospects are abandoned altogether, so they never waste your time.
From your perspective, your sales and marketing people are more efficient and deals are more likely to close, more quickly. Prospects move through the buying funnel more smoothly, with the right leads being sent to the right departments, at the right times.
From your customers’ perspective, you deliver a more relevant, personal experience: “an experience for the user, dictated by the user”.
Predictive marketing fuels business growth
B2B marketers have long acknowledged the importance of personalisation to drive sales, improve budget efficiency and create competitive difference. But action and acknowledgement are two different things.
Lack of data certainly hasn’t been our problem. But transforming that data into actionable insight has proved altogether more difficult.
Predictive marketing analytics marks an end to these issues, creating a data-rich single customer view that transforms how you segment, target and engage. That’s why Forrester observe, “PMA adopters are seeing their efforts turn into real, measurable results”.
Download the full Forrester Wave Predictive Marketing Analytics for B2B Marketers report to understand more about the predictive landscape.
Or to explore how predictive analytics could work for your organisation consider the BrightTarget predictive marketing accelerator to quickly prove the ROI potential of predictive using your own data and business model. This unique approach means you can start to see the value of predictive with minimal risk and investment.